Scholars: Shaolin Kung Fu comes from Yexia Temple

By Xu Lin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, December 15, 2011
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Shaolin Kung Fu

The world-famous Shaolin Kung Fu may have originated from Yexia Temple in ancient China's Yecheng City, instead of from the popularly believed Bodhidharma, according to scholars at an annual culture summit in Hebei Province.

Yexia Temple, located in today's Anyang of Henan Province, is the earliest temple found in China's historical records where the monks practiced Wushu, or martial arts. Since Buddhist Monk Chou from Yexia Temple became the second abbot of Shaolin Temple, Shaolin Kung Fu had thus been born, the scholars said.

Meanwhile, the mainstream belief in Bodhidharma being China's first martial arts teacher can be traced to a popular phrase in Chinese martial arts novels: "All martial arts in the world come from Shaolin Temple, and Shaolin Kung Fu originates from Bodhidharma."

Liu Yushan and Liu Wenying, scholars who researched the history and culture of Yecheng City, said both propositions were found in their studies. However, they are leaning toward the textual research by Professor Ma Aimin of Anyang Normal University, who concluded that the first Shaolin Temple abbot Buddhabhadra and Indian monk Bodhidharma were eminent monks on Buddhism, but not on martial arts.

Bodhidharma came to visit the nearby area of Shaolin Temple during the Northern Wei Dynasty in the year of 486, and left before 495, while Shaolin Temple was built in the west of Songshan Mountain in 495, when Bodhidharma had already moved on. It was not until Monk Chou came to Shaolin Temple with his Wushu skills when he was 33 that Shaolin monks started to practice martial arts, according to Ma.

Historical records indicate that Monk Chou was born and lived in the area around Anyang all along. He already had excellent skills in martial arts before coming to Shaolin Temple to study Buddhism from Buddhabhadra. As Shaolin Temple's second abbot and its earliest Kung Fu instructor, Monk Chou combined the martial arts with Buddhism ideas, which had profound influences on the formation and the enduring characteristics of Shaolin Kung Fu.

Ma published his research with a number of academic essays on several periodicals to explain his idea in detail about Shaolin Kung Fu being originated from Yexia Temple.

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